Litigation of any kind can be expensive. Many times, people are unprepared for how quickly fees and costs can add up, which can create financial and emotional concerns. The good news is that there are simple ways you can ensure that your litigation costs are kept as low as possible - follow these tips, and you'll save more than you expect!
1. Do your homework. When we ask you to do something, do not require us to follow up with you to make sure it gets done. Do it promptly and notify your attorney as soon as you have completed what we have asked you to do.
2. Respond to communications as soon as possible. If we have called or emailed you with information that we need to discuss with you, make sure you reply to us as quickly as possible. We will not contact you for trivial issues; if we are trying to contact you, there is a reason, and it is usually time-sensitive. Even if you do not like the subject and reason, we need you to respond right away so we can address the issue before it turns into a bigger one. Having to try multiple times to get you to respond only increases the cost of your case and delays being able to resolve your case.
3. Follow your attorney's advice and directions. You will have to do things during your case that you will not want to do: answer discovery questions, provide documentation to us, follow court orders, stop discussing your case with your children, or stop trying to micromanage your ex and their behavior (as just a few examples). You will be upset that you have to do the things we are asking you to do – do them as you are instructed anyway. We have spent years learning how certain things that clients do (or refuse to do) can negatively change the outcome of their case. If we are telling you to do or stop doing something, it is because we know that failing to follow our instructions will harm your case and decrease the chances of reaching the outcome you want.
4. Get information to us timely. Try to get as much information to us at one time as you possibly can. It is more expensive if we have to piecemeal your document preparation. This also applies to sending us questions you have or telling us about issues you feel need to be addressed: sending everything to us at one time makes it easier for us to handle it and less expensive for you when we don't have to go through multiple emails to get the information we need.
5. Give us all the information we ask you for - and ONLY that information. Don't argue with us that we do not need certain information or make excuses to us about why you think you shouldn't have to provide it. There is a reason, or we would not be asking you for it. When your attorney gives you a deadline to provide information or documents, make sure you get it to them on time. Make sure that when you send things we've asked for, you clearly label each item in a way that makes it easy to understand what you've sent. Rename digital files to describe what the document is and what issues it relates to. If you are sending us things as part of Discovery answers, put the documents for each Discovery request into a separate folder that has the number of the request you're responding to in the folder title. If you're sending us things to prove or disprove a claim the other side has made, make sure we can understand what you've sent and why - if we have to keep calling or emailing you to have you explain what you sent us and why, it drives up the costs you have to pay because it takes a lot more time and work on our part to get it sorted out.
On the flip side, unless your attorney has specifically told you to send them something, please ASK them if they need it BEFORE you send it. We do not need hundreds of out-of-order screenshots of your text messages with the other party, random documents that you think "support" your case, or photos of things that are not related to the issues listed in the documents filed in your case. If we need you to send us something, we will send you a specific request with a detailed description of what we need you to send. When we have to go through things we didn't request from you, we will probably find that we cannot use any of what you sent, but you will still be billed for our time spent having to go through all of it.
6. Don't try to control the minutia. Trying to save money by making copies makes our job harder. Unless you know the number, what order we need them in, and on what kind of paper, you will cause us to have to work with your documents longer to organize your version of what you think we need. The same goes for sending us hundreds of pages of documents, screenshots, or other info you think pertains to your case that we did not request. Please ask your attorney if they think something you have will be helpful before sending it; they will tell you if they need it or not.
7. Do not call or email multiple times in a day. Our attorneys have many clients and heavy court schedules. It may take longer than you would like for your attorney to have time to return your call or email. It is always faster and less costly for you to send your attorney an email regarding the issue you wish to discuss. If you have several different issues to discuss, it is highly recommended that you send one email that lists the different issues so that your attorney may address all of them in one reply, rather than sending your attorney a dozen emails over several days.
8. Come to meetings prepared. It takes us more time and we get less done when you come unprepared. If you are not prepared for a meeting, talk to your attorney first. A 10-minute phone call is much more cost-effective than a wasted hour of your time.
9. Don't require meetings to be re-scheduled, unless it is truly necessary. When you reschedule a meeting, your attorney will have to essentially prepare again and familiarize themselves with the issues of your case again. The logistics of changing the meeting takes time too. A valid reason for rescheduling a meeting would be because you have not done your homework. The meeting will be a waste of time if there are no other issues to work on.
10. Do not bring us forms you got off the internet or try to insert your own wording into the documents we prepare. This only makes our job harder and your bill higher. If you knew how to craft your own documents, you probably wouldn't need us. We have a protocol for the creation of documents. When you create them or try to insert things into the ones we create, we have to go back and analyze what you did and what you missed. This process takes us about 3 times longer than it would if we prepared the document ourselves and costs you more money.
If you follow this advice, you will be able to control as many extra costs as possible and make your case run much faster and smoother - and wouldn't you rather have more money to enjoy when your case is finished than spend it all on attorney fees?